Liverpool have a tough first match back after the World Cup, facing Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.
Compared to other top sides, relatively few of Jurgen Klopp’s squad left to represent their countries with only seven travelling to Qatar and five of them already back training with their club.
Even so, the manager most likely won’t rush them back with a number of first-team players fully fit having remained with Liverpool throughout the winter break.
Here’s the starting XI Klopp could field against Man City.
GK: Caoimhin Kelleher – Liverpool’s penalty hero in the previous round against Derby will have another chance to show what he can do with Alisson only just coming back from the World Cup.
RB: Calvin Ramsay – Ramsay hasn’t been given too many chances since joining from Aberdeen in the summer but looks likely to get his second competitive start against Man City.
CB: Joe Gomez – Gomez’s loss of not being selected in England’s World Cup squad was Liverpool’s gain with the 25-year-old fully fit and rested.
CB: Joel Matip – The same can be said regarding Matip, who wasn’t in the Cameroon squad having retired from international football.
LB: Konstantinos Tsimikas – Both Tsimikas and Andy Robertson are available to Klopp for the match.
CM: James Milner – Milner is likely to captain Liverpool in their first match back and will probably play in midfield, although he could be used at full-back too.
DM: Stefan Bajcetic- Klopp could play Thiago if he wishes but may well prefer to keep the Spaniard fresh for Liverpool’s first Premier League match back and give 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic another chance instead.
CM: Harvey Elliott – The World Cup came too soon for Elliott, who has yet to be called up by Gareth Southgate, but it does mean he’ll be ready from the off for the last few matches of 2022.
RW: Mohamed Salah – Salah is fully fit, and with Man City likely having to deploy a makeshift backline, he could have some fun at the Etihad.
ST: Roberto Firmino – The same can be said for Firmino, who was somewhat surprisingly left out of Brazil’s World Cup squad.
LW: Fabio Carvalho – Carvalho has shown some signs of promise this season and should get the chance to do so again unless Klopp wants to bring Darwin Nunez straight back in.